A new study lead by the Neuroscience Institute of Alicante reveals how manipulating the endocannabinoid system can modulate high levels of impulsivity. This is the main problem in psychiatric illnesses such a schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and substance abuse. Spanish researchers have for the first time proved that the CB2 receptor, which has modulating functions in the nervous system, is involved in regulating impulsive behaviour. "Such a result proves the relevance that manipulation of the endocannabinoid system can have in modulating high levels of impulsivity present in a wide range of psychiatric and neurological illness, " explains SINC Jorge Manzanares Robles, a scientist at the Alicante Neuroscience Institute and director of the study. Carried out on mice, the study suggests the possibility of undertaking future clinical trials using drugs that selectively act on the CB2 and thus avoid the psychoactive effects deriving from receptor CB1 manipulation, whose role in impulsivity has already been proven.
In 2008, roughly 14.3 million Americans were taking antipsychotics - typically prescribed for bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or a number of other behavioral disorders - making them among the most prescribed drugs in the U.S. Almost all of these medications are known to cause the metabolic side effects of obesity and diabetes, leaving patients with a difficult choice between improving their mental health and damaging their physical health. In a paper published January 31 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) reveal how antipsychotic drugs interfere with normal metabolism by activating a protein called SMAD3, an important part of the transforming growth factor beta (TGFbeta) pathway. The TGFbeta pathway is a cellular mechanism that regulates many biological processes, including cell growth, inflammation, and insulin signaling.
Over the past 30 years, numerous studies have linked Borna disease virus (BDV) with mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorder and dementia. Genetic fragments and antibodies to this RNA virus, which causes behavior disorders in a range of mammals and birds, have been found to be prevalent in psychiatric patients, but study results have been inconsistent. Now, the first blinded, case-control study to examine this issue finds no association between the virus and psychiatric illness. The study, conducted by researchers at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and collaborators at seven other institutions in the U.S, Germany and Australia, can be found online at Molecular Psychiatry. The scientists evaluated 198 patients in California with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder, carefully matched each one of them with a healthy control of the same sex, age, region and socio-economic status, and tested blood of patients and controls for the presence of BDV genetic material and antibodies to BDV.
The most effective long-term treatment for bipolar disorder is lithium. It offers protection against depression and mania and reduces the risk of suicide and short-term mortality. However, according to a study in The Lancet, safety concerns have made the use of lithium controversial. The authors examined about 400 articles to research the possible adverse effects of lithium and found abnormalities in the thyroid and parathyroid in about 25% of patients who receive lithium therapy, compared with 3% and 0.1% in the general population. They also observed that lithium causes weight gain and has the potential to slightly reduce the kidney's ability to concentrate urine. They highlight that evidence of lithium treatment being associated with congenital abnormalities in pregnancy is still uncertain, and there is very little proof that links lithium to skin problems or hair loss.
PCE in drinking water linked to an increased risk of mental illness The solvent tetrachloroethylene (PCE) widely used in industry and to dry clean clothes is a neurotoxin known to cause mood changes, anxiety, and depression in people who work with it. To date the long-term effect of this chemical on children exposed to PCE has been less clear, although there is some evidence that children of people who work in the dry cleaning industry have an increased risk of schizophrenia. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Environmental Health found that exposure to PCE as a child was associated with an increased risk of bipolar disorder and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). From 1968, until the early 1980s, water companies in Massachusetts installed vinyl-lined (VL/AC) water pipes that were subsequently found to be leaching PCE into the drinking water supply.